I realize that by putting this article out there that I’m going to be putting a lot of myself on the table. I do not know if it’s some sort of therapy that’s compelling me to do this or if it’s just the negativity once again focusing in on gaming, but I feel that maybe by telling my tale, even to those of the choir, maybe it will help to put gaming and what it can do to a life in perspective.
So in order for this story to be relevant I have to give you a little background on me. I grew up in an average up and coming suburban city. My parents split early in my life and I spent most of my younger years with my mother. I like to call this time in my life the “time of excess.” My mom worked for my grandfather and made good money. Of course, as a kid you never really question how much your parents make you, just know what you can get away with asking for and I could ask for anything. In a word I was spoiled, rotten to the core really. I was one of those kids at Toys R Us that would cry in the aisle because I didn’t get a toy while out shopping for a friend’s birthday present. That eventually, of course, led to me getting my first video game system. I became instantly hooked and Mario and Link filled my after school hours with a lot of fun.
We would later move to a new home, and as I grew up I began to notice things around me. The friends my mom was keeping just wouldn’t sit right with me. They would have get-togethers or parties on strange nights, they were always coming and going. It was like our house was the spot to be and I could never understand it. Maybe that was a good thing, perhaps if I had realized what was going on too early I wouldn’t have built up the shield that I did to help keep me safe from the things outside of my room. My reaction to all the hustle and bustle was simply to shell myself in. I would come home from school and go straight to my room; I had TV and, more importantly, video games in there. Once I was in my room I was safe, nothing outside of my door mattered and I was simply allowed to exist peacefully in my sanctum.
Then it happened-the night when the curtain was really lifted from my eyes. When I was about 11 or 12 I was at home with a few of my friends while my mom was out bowling. As we got set to eat our Bigfoot pizza and there on our table was a piece of mirror and on that mirror a few left over white grains. While I tried to play it off and say it was just salt or something, I knew from that moment why this house was so popular. I lived in a drug users paradise. On the outside a perfectly normal house that no one would expect, on the inside a house of illicit indulgences.
Now why I have I told you all of this? How does this relate to gaming in the slightest? Well, given my situation it would have been very easy for me to slip into my mother’s lifestyle. Take a snort of leftover here, steal from a purse there, and in a few short years I am a wash out. However, there was something that always kept me focused, which kept my mind off of the outside, and instead allowed me to internalize and block everything out … that thing, of course, was gaming. No matter how bad things got I could simply go in and turn on my Nintendo and just be a happy, content, young man. The thought of using any of the drugs in the house never even crossed my mind because all I could focus on was how the hell to beat Captain Falcon in that next race. It was a ray of light in dark times for me, and honestly I am eternally thankful that I had them in my life.
I tell you this story because I am sure there are other stories like mine out there. But sadly, in a world where we are so quick to find scapegoats for every evil, video games seem to be the favored whipping boy. All that is ever talked about is how games corrupt young minds and cause them to do horrid things. Well, I am here to say that that is utter and complete bullshit. It’s time we faced a simple fact of life: some people are just fucking crazy, and some people are just evil. And yet, rather than accept that this is just something man is capable of, we want to try and find the reason why. This leads to the attempted censorship and restriction of a media that I not only enjoy, but one that I give a lot of credit to the fact that I never strayed down the dark path I very easily could have walked.
I like that so many of you are passionate about our favored past time of video gaming, and right now it is coming under a lot of attack. I urge you to write you senators, congressmen, governors and state legislators if you have not yet done so. Tell them that the problem isn’t gaming. The problem is people, and maybe when we stop trying to put the blame on something and start putting it instead on someone we can really start to move forward again as a country, as a people, and as a species.